Fighter Jet maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said it plans to deliver three more light combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by the end of March, taking the count of planes in the IAF’s first Tejas squadron from six to nine. “With increased level of outsourcing and capacity augmentation within HAL, we will be able to speed up the deliveries to cater to the present and future requirements,” said an HAL official, who did not wish to be identified.
Under the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s larger vision of pushing Make in India, the Ministry of Defence has taken multiple measures to promote indigenisation in the defence industry. In the 2018 budget, two Defence Corridors were announced in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Subsequent to the announcement, the process has begun to set up these corridors. As one of the first steps to initiate development of the Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor, an interactive meeting with local industry was held at Tiruchirappalli.
Production woes of the homegrown Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) have led to disenchantment and frustration in the Indian Air Force (IAF), which has ordered 123 of the planes and plans to order 201 more upgraded variants to arrest a sharp decline in its combat capabilities. Public sector aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has delivered only six LCAs to the IAF, missing its target of supplying 20 aircraft by the end of the year’s first quarter, a person familiar with the Tejas induction programme in the force.
Modernisation of defence sector is a continuous process and is undertaken based on threat perception, operational challenges, technological changes and available resources. The process of defence acquisition is based on the fifteen years Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), five years Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) and an Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP). Government also constantly reviews the security scenario and accordingly decides to induct appropriate defence equipment to keep the Armed Forces in a state of readiness.
The Indian Air Force inventory is a mix of old and new equipment. Ageing of equipment is a natural process and is dealt with through proper maintenance, obsolescence management, upgrades and acquisition of new equipment without compromising safety. The MiG-21 and MiG-27 UPG aircraft of Indian Air Force will be phased out on completion of their Total Calendar Life / Total Technical Life by 2024. Phasing out of aircraft and their replacement with new generation aircraft depends upon national security, strategic objectives and operational requirements of the defence forces and is reviewed by the Government from time to time.
Make in India’ in defence sector, which is primarily driven by capital acquisition of defence equipment and other policy measures, has been introduced in all major areas of defence such as combat vehicles, combat aircrafts, warships, weapons, ammunitions, missiles, radars, electronic warfare systems etc. Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the Research wing of Ministry of Defence has been set up with a mandate of developing cutting edge technologies and systems for Indian Armed Forces as per their specific Qualitative Requirements.
The policy on Strategic Partnerships in Defence sector was approved by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in May, 2017. It was promulgated on 31.05.2017 as Chapter-VII of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 titled as ‘Revitalising Defence Industrial Ecosystem through Strategic Partnerships’. The policy was placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The CCS considered the Note on the Policy in its meeting held on 24.05.2017 and noted the contents thereof.
The Government is promoting privatisation in Defence Production. Till February 2018, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has issued 348 licenses to 210 Indian Companies for manufacture of various licensable defence items. Apart from this, one manufacturing license has also been issued by Ministry of Home Affairs for Small Arms and Ammunitions. Till February 2018, 70 license companies covering 114 licenses have reported commencement of production.